Wednesday, March 26, 2008

National League Predictions

While I do not recognize the Red Sox and A's two game miniseries as part of the regular season because it took place in the wrong hemisphere, Baseball is basically here. ESPN has the Season Opener on Saturday night, many teams play Sunday and everyone is in by Monday. My fantasy league has drafted, Sports Illustrated has released their Major League Baseball preview (though I haven't received it because my mailman steals things), and Mark Prior is injured. So it's time to look at the season ahead.

It would have been fun to make 86 predictions for the upcoming season, in honor of the 1986 Mets, but who has time for that? Plus, I'd end up having to start predicting some really obscure, pointless facts (like by how many games the Dodgers miss the playoffs - 6+). So I will stick to the stuff that matters, first the National League:

NL East: Mets - The offense will be decent, not a juggernaut like the last few years were expected to be. But the pitching will be stellar. Pedro is the new 14-15 win, 4.00-4.50 Pedro, but that is fine for a #4 starter. John Maine is a front line starter now despite that he was undrafted in my fantasy league (I promptly dumped Todd Helton for him). Perez was a consistent and consistently good throughout 2007. No reason to think he won't be again. El Duque will be El Middle Reliever. Pelfrey is the #5 and will be good for 10-15 wins depending on run support. Santana is the best pitcher in baseball and he is going to a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league. ERA will be sub 3.00 and he'll win 20 and the Cy Young. The starters are conservatively good for 70 wins. An average relief staff can scrape together 25 more, and this isn't an average staff. 95-67

NL Central: Cubs - Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill are a solid starting three, plus Leiber, Marquis and Demptster will fill out the rotation. Their offense is very good with Ryan Theriot and Alfonso Soriano leading off, and Fukodome may be fantastic (or he may be Kaz Matsui). The Central generally stinks and this team will feast on the biggest, weakest division. 97-65

NL West: Giants - Just kidding. Diamondbacks - No team in the league has the front-line starting pitching of the DBacks. The Dodgers are the sexy pick, with all these young guys and especially with Torre, but I don't buy it. They were a fourth place team last year. They have no track record of success, and are known more for choking late that anything else. Is Torre enough of a motivator to fix it? Perhaps. But what have the Yankees been known for of late? Choking. The Rockies were magical but there is simply no way that every single player has a career year again. It took a 20+ game win streak to get them to the postseason (and through most of the postseason) can't rely on that. The Padres have Mark Prior. The Dbacks are like a secret out there in Phoenix. But Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are a lights out 1-2 combo with Micah Owings and The Old Unit bringing up the rear. Upton, Young and Byrnes may be the best defensive outfield in baseball. The West is very even and the win totals will be low (thus hurting their Wild Card chances). 92-70

NL Wild Card: Braves - It was fun while it lasted, the Braves are good again. Chipper doesn't need to be the man with Tiexiera there and Andruw Jones is gone which is the best thing they could hope for in the off season. Glavine will probably turn into Nolan Ryan since he was a saboteur on the Mets the whole damned-time anyway. Smoltz is Smoltz. Hudson is awesome. Chuck James is decent. Hampton sucks but he'll get hurt so he won't hurt the team. Kelly Johnson, Mark Kotsay, Larry Jones, Mark Tiexiera, Matt Diaz, Brian McCann Jeff Franceour is a tough top 7. Their pitching is either too old or too young to match up with the Mets, but they will hover around the 90-win mark. 90-72

NLDS: Cubs over Braves in 6 - Zambrano beats Hudson twice. Chipper flops. Soriano strikes out at curve balls a lot. Tiexiera is a one man show, but the Cubs balanced offense eats up the tired, old Braves pitching.

NLDS: Mets over DBacks in 4 - Santana throws four perfect games in the series, David Wright pulls a Carlos Beltran and hits 7 home runs.

NLCS: Mets over Cubs in 7 - Cubs go up 3 games to none. Steve Bartman, wearing a Jim Kelly helmet, black socks, a Babe Ruth jersey, Brian Leetch's skates, Arizona Cardinals shoulder pads, Jim Brown's costume gun from The Dirty Dozen, and Turk Wendell's necklace, brings a copy of Madden, a Sports Illustrated with Kerry Wood on the cover, and a billy goat to game 4 so all curses can be broken simultaneously and the universe gets angry. Mets win four straight.

I will have the AL winners and World Series champ (take a guess) soon.

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